Friday, May 19, 2017

Rome Diaries: Falling in Love


After half a day in Rome, I got a message from my sister, "How is it?" she asked. "As romantic as it is depicted in the movies?"

It sure would have been, if not for the scorching sun and the long queues. We had taken an early morning flight from London, reached our hotel in Rome around lunch time and headed straight to the Vatican city. You can't enjoy on an empty stomach now, can you?

"We haven't actually seen Rome, love. Give it a chance!" my husband reasoned in his genteel voice. I can't argue with Mr. Right and so ignoring my growling tummy, I opened my arms and embraced the city of Rome. And as it happened, I did fall in love. The next time a message popped up on my phone from my sister, I did not hesitate before replying, "Yes, yes it is!"

I don't know the exact moment I fell in love with Rome. It was not love at first sight, it was rather a slow build up, but Rome with its historic scenery, stunning architecture, and sunny piazzas did not leave any stone unturned to charm its way into my heart.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Rukmini #AtoZChallenge‏ @AprilA2Z



A woman dreams of her marriage ever since she is a little girl, playing make-belief in her little room with her friends. What she doesn't dream is of running away on the night of her wedding. That dream came to me. That day as I put on my maang-tikka and looked at myself in the mirror, I smiled after ages. "You are going to run away from your own wedding!", a mischievous reflection answered back.

Earlier that day, my trusted aide, Sunanda, had delivered my message to Lord Krishna and I knew he would come. I had confessed my love for him and also informed him of how my brother, Rukmi had arranged my marriage with his friend Shishupala, the crown prince of Chedi, against my wishes.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Mandodari #AtoZChallenge‏ @AprilA2Z


The skies were grey and thunderous, the flowers in my backyard were colourless and dead, and the palatial rooms seemed closing in on me as my husband informed me of his conquest. For sometime now, he had been obsessed with Sita, the wife of Lord Rama. When Surpanakha, came to her brother, complaining of how the princes of Ayodhya, Rama and Lakshman, had humiliated her and cut off her nose, Ravana did not think twice before marching out. Was he directed by the need for revenge, or was he enamoured with Sita's beauty, that led him to use trickery and force to abduct Sita, is a question I keep asking myself.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Prepare to Be Illuminated!


I have a smile on my face, even before I'm inside. Walking on the streets of Soho, the buzzing atmosphere and the non-stop entertainment, is making my head spin and I am looking for a perfect place to crash.

And that is when I peer in to this window. With lights ablaze, I can't figure out if this is an art gallery or a cafe. Undecided, I step inside do find out, that it is both.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Kaikeyi #AtoZChallenge‏ @AprilA2Z




I am told no one will ever be named Kaikeyi.

I am told that I am a disgrace and that my obstinance killed my King. The King whom I had loved the most; The King for whose safety I had given up my own.

I was raised as a warrior princess. Growing up with seven brothers, I never had any maternal influence since my father, King Ashwapati had banished my mother for not being a good influence, when I was very young. Did I harbour my insecurities from that early point on, I sometimes wonder when questioned why I did what I did.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jambavati #AtoZChallenge‏ @AprilA2Z




When a child goes astray, whose fault is it? Why is a child only a mother's responsibility, and not so much the father's?

Growing up, my father, Jambavan, the bear king, told me stories of Lord Rama and his wife Sita. His proud moment was when he assisted Lord Ram in the battle against Ravana, and every night he would narrate to me the details of the fight and how the victorious Rama returned back to Ayodhya and was welcomed with praises and showered with flowers and gold. But he always missed one important detail, the story of Janaki, Maa Sita.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Indrani #AtoZChallenge‏ @AprilA2Z



Being beautiful is often a curse. People don't see beyond the beauty, they never speak about your hopes, or your dreams. With beauty comes the burden of jealousy, of desire, of vanity. So when people describe me as 'The endless beauty' they also describe me as the Goddess of 'wrath and jealousy'.

I sometimes think if ever my husband saw me for who I really am? Or he too, like others thought, I was just his shadow? Indra's Indrani?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Hidimbi #AtoZChallenge‏ @AprilA2Z



When I was five years old, I prayed to Lord Shiva to make me beautiful. Being looked down upon as Mumulaikanni, "the three-breasted maiden", had become a day to day thing. Sleeping myself to tears had become a day to day thing. 

My strict tapsya pleased Lord Shiva and he offered me a boon, that when I meet a husband fit for me, my third breast would disappear and my ugliness would be replaced by great beauty. So it wasn't a surprise to me that I lost all my senses and fell deeply in love with Bheema, the moment I laid my eyes on him. It was love at first sight, that which transformed my heart from that of a rakshasi to a woman wanting nothing but a man's love.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Gandhari #AtoZChallenge‏ @AprilA2Z


The war has ended but the cries will echo for years to come. My tears flow unabashedly but on the inside I am ashamed and numb. I look over at Draupadi and recognize her anguish too. Draupadi's children died because she could not forgive. I lost my hundred sons because I turned a blind eye to their actions.

Everyone mourns along with Draupadi for her five sons, who were killed mercilessly by Ashwatthama in the middle of the night. The mourn for Arjun's son, Abhimanyu, who fought courageously inside the Chakravyuha battle formation as his own uncles attacked him simultaneously. They mourn for Bhima’s son, Ghatotkacha, who served as a human shield for the Pandavas and was killed by Karna's Vasavi Shakti. They were the heroes. 

But no one mourns for Duryodhana, who was killed by Bheema in a mace fight, by unfairly hitting him below his torso, on his thigh. I mourn alone. I get no sympathy because my sons were deemed the villains, they were the ones who were on the opposite side of dharma, on the opposite side of righteousness.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Fullara #AtoZChallenge‏ @AprilA2Z



What is done is done. Here I lie, part of me, just my lower lip, and I look at my husband carrying my charred remains, tears rolling down his eyes, moaning in pain. Here I will remain, and devotees will build temples around this site and call me Fullara Devi, but no one will understand the meaning of it all.

What is desire? What is the meaning of vengeance? What is our purpose in life?  I find myself pondering over these questions as I look at my ascetic husband. Smeared in ashes, drunk on bhaang, covered with snakes and accompanied by ghosts, he is so ignorant of the world. He is unaware that his sorrow threatens the well-being of the world. Oh my Bholenath - the ignorant one, how did I let this happen.